Wheels are an important part of a skateboard. They dictate how a board rides, how it turns and how fast it can go. The type of wheels you have on your board is just as important as other parts of the skateboard like the deck, trucks, bearings, etc.
If you ask about the basics of skateboard wheels, the first thing to know is what skateboard wheels are made of. You also get plenty of different type, size and shape options when you go to choose wheels. The hardness of the wheels varies too. And all of these factors affect your performance. So, you need to understand them to find the best one for you.
What are Skateboard Wheels Made of?
Polyurethane: The most common material for skateboard wheels
Wheels can be made from various materials, but the most common are polyurethane. It is a type of plastic. It is durable. And it can hold out against the wear and tear that comes with skateboarding. It also provides a smooth ride.
The polyurethane is heated and poured into a mold, where it is then cooled and shaped into a wheel. The wheel is then treated with a hard coating that makes it durable and helps it grip the skateboard deck.
Other materials of skateboard wheels: steel or clay
One of the materials that skateboard wheel manufacturers use is clay. It is a natural material that is made up of different elements. It is a good material for skateboard wheels because it provides smooth rides. A disadvantage of using clay is that it is comparatively expensive.
Another material that skateboard wheel manufacturers use is steel. Steel is strong and durable, which makes it a good choice for skateboard wheels. But it rusts quickly. However, manufacturers are trying different combinations every other day to get the best quality at a cheaper price.
Wheel Hardness or Durometer
Skateboard wheel hardness is usually measured in durometers. The higher the durometer number, the harder the wheel. Wheels with a higher durometer number are faster and provide more traction than wheels with a lower durometer number. However, they are also more difficult to turn and can cause more bumps and bruises if you fall while skating on them.
There is no definitive answer to whether hard skateboard wheels are good or bad. Some people believe that it’s good as they provide a faster ride. While others think they are not a good choice as they make comparatively more noise and vibration. You need to choose the one that works best for you.
The most common skateboard wheel durometer is 99A. Getting the wheels with 99A or more durometer is usually recommended for those who want to get the hard wheels. The soft wheel durometer is between 77A to 87A. From 96A or more is considered as hard wheels. And the ones in the between offer a balance of comfort and speed.
Skateboard Wheel Size
Skateboard wheel size is an important aspect of a skateboard. It will affect the speed, agility, and maneuverability of the skateboard.
“What is a good skateboard wheel size”, this has been a topic of debate for as long as skateboarding has been around. While there is no answer that everyone agreed to, some of the most common sizes are 52mm, 53mm, and 54mm. However, there are variations from as small as 48mm to as large as 60mm. Here 50mm or under is usually considered as smaller wheels. 55mm or more wheel size is addressed as larger wheels. And the ones in between are medium wheels.
Smaller wheels are good for street skating because they make it easier to do tricks. They are better for experienced riders who want to do skateboarding tricks and perform stunts. While the larger wheels are better for skating parks because they provide more speed and stability. They are better for beginner and intermediate riders because they provide more stability and easier control. In addition, larger wheels travel faster and farther than smaller wheels. Smaller wheels are more agile and can make sharper turns.
Types of Skateboard Wheels
Just like there are many type of skateboards, you have various type options available for skateboard wheels too. In order to find the suitable one for you, you need to know about the different types and what each is best for.
There are 3 main types of skateboard wheels: street or park wheels, cruiser or soft wheels, and longboard wheels. Street or park wheels are typically smaller and harder. While cruiser or soft wheels are relatively larger and softer. Longboard wheels are usually the biggest and softest among these 3 types.
Street or park wheels are designed for tricks and stunts. As they are smaller and harder than cruiser or soft wheels, street wheels are good for grinding on rails and ledges. Cruiser or soft wheels are designed for going around town. They are larger and softer than street or park wheels, which makes them better for carving and sliding. While longboard wheels are designed for longboard skating.
Skateboard Wheel Shape and Color
Wheel shape is one of the factors that determine how a skateboard performs. There are many shapes of skateboard wheels, and each one affects your ride in a different way. They create different amounts of friction with the ground. That affects acceleration, turning, and stability.
Square-shaped wheels provide the most contact with the ground, making them ideal for speed and stability. Rounded wheels provide less contact, making them better for skateboarding tricks and smaller riders. No matter what shape you choose, make sure your wheels are made of high-quality materials to ensure a safe and smooth ride.
And the color of skateboard wheels are mainly for aesthetics. Skaters also choose to purchase mixed colored wheels, which can create unique designs. It doesn’t affect the performance directly. You won’t be seeing the wheels while skateboarding anyway.
So, it’s on you. But it is still recommended to get the one you like most. The one that looks good to you. It will pump your confidence.
In conclusion, skateboard wheels comes in various sizes, shape and different materials. It is crucial to choose the right wheel type for your skating style. It is best to start with a polyurethane wheel if you are a beginner. They are durable and provide a good grip.
As you progress, you can experiment with different types of wheels to find the ones that work best for you. As skateboard wheels come in a variety of sizes and colors, you have so many options to explore and find the perfect set for your style of skating.